Wait, what??? How can juice be bad for you? It’s natural, made of fruit and contains all sorts of vitamins and stuff, which last time I checked, was SUPPOSED to be good for you. Right? Well, maybe those particular aspects are good for a person in general. But for someone with Diabetes, fruit juices can be less than ideal because of all the sugar they contain. And despite the fact that I titled this post in relation to juice, this applies to a number of different foods, sometimes without the consumer even realizing it.
I was recently caught by surprise when my mother decided to send me a couple of packages of “No Sugar Added” sugar wafers (yes, I still get care packages from my mommy, they’re mostly for my kids!) First and foremost, the fact that they’re called “sugar wafers” should have set off some alarm bells in my mother’s head. But bless her big heart, she’s still stuck in the 1980’s mindset where words like “sugar-free” actually mean, well… sugar-free!
When examining the wafers’ nutritional facts on the back of the package, I realized that three of these wafers, which is what they consider a “serving size” contained about 24 grams of carbohydrates. Somewhat significant when you have to take bolusing insulin into consideration. Since that’s about the same amount of carbs contained in most store-bought cream cookies, I found myself asking where the benefit was.
Out of curiosity, I purchased a couple of regular packages of sugar wafers from my local grocery store. These were run-of-the-mill and had no indications of being reduced sugar or “no sugar added.” To ensure I didn’t hit a fluke, I bought more than one package, in different flavours. To my surprise, the regular sugar wafers showed a portion size of 4 wafers at 22 grams of carbs. Yes, you read that right and it isn’t a typo.
According to new math, the “no sugar added” alternative sits at 8 grams of carbs per wafer, with the regular ones sitting at about 5.5 grams per wafer. I was somewhat taken aback to realize that the “no sugar added” wafers had a higher carb count than regular ones. The problem is that if they eliminate sugar from their recipe, most companies will need to find an alternative to replace the lost sweetness. And that alternative can sometimes add to the overall carb count.
Another issue I once ran into was something I thought was carb-free when it really wasn’t. I bet that most people who measure and monitor their carbohydrate intake would be of the opinion that vegetables are carb-free, right? I would certainly think so. Have all the carrots, broccoli and brussel sprouts that you can handle, my friend. Those will certainly be carb-free. But did you know that many vegetables are pretty carb-loaded?
Just one cup of corn kernels contains 36 grams of carbohydrates! I learned this the hard way when I decided to have a “carb-free” meal of vegetable soup, only to have a blood sugar spike soon after. There was corn in the soup. Frickin’ corn!!! I also recently purchased a bag of lentils to try out in some recipes, since they’re packed with protein AND the recipes were sitting on my Endocrinologist’s coffee table.
But the bag of green lentils I purchased show that only half a cup of lentils contain 35 grams of carbohydrate! That’s a pretty significant jump, just to sass up my burger patties or add a little something to my soup. And there are a number of foods that fall under this category that one would tend to assume would be low or carb-free. This is why it’s so important to check the nutritional information on everything you eat and keep a close eye out.
I tried explaining the issue to my mother when she asked me how I had enjoyed the wafers. Her response was, “That’s impossible. The package clearly says No Sugar Added!” My mother still lives with a mindset that all Diabetes means is “don’t eat sugar and take insulin,” and everything will be peachy. The concepts of carb counting and anything other than sugar causing an issue doesn’t compute. But it’s certainly something to keep an eye on, especially if you want to maintain reasonable blood sugar levels. ☯